Pakistan’s foremost economic tribulations at this juncture are twin deficit: The economic managers have been struggling to restrain imports and to hike exports but all efforts going in vain. The import-substitution is a solution to a deluge of economic ills which has to be prioritized sooner rather than later in case Pakistan is to be pulled out of economic quagmire. Pakistan imports abundantly, which has undermined the economy over the period of particularly last couple of decades.
There is no misgiving about the narrative that the restrained imports could underpin the economic recovery, which is pretty imperative in the given circumstances. There is a prevailing notion these days that imported products have witnessed a precipitous fall in sales in Pakistan. This may hold true since the prices of the imported products have soared sky-high in the wake of the recent depreciation in the rupee. There is also no denying the fact that the recent devaluation of the local currency has put a bigger strain on the economic system.
Pakistan has become a consumption-oriented economy contrary to its economic model which calls for greater savings for greater prosperity. The social pressures have compelled the nation to opt for consumption approach, which is deemed catastrophic in all scenarios.
Home appliances witness resurgence in demand particularly during so-called wedding season in Pakistan. The resurgence in demand of TV, audio systems, fridge, ACs, washing machines, microwaves etc. is visible in around 3000 electronic products’ markets across the country.
Electronic products’ markets are thriving no matter what the economic growth of the country is since people in cities and villages alike replace their appliances with new and more advanced versions even if they have to borrow from any source. This culture has led us to a blind alley in terms of economic prosperity. Some countries have targeted Pakistan as their lucrative market and have swamped the market at the expense of the local industry of Pakistan.
The economy of Pakistan bears a whopping burden in terms of importing home appliances as well as the components of the home appliances since assembling not manufacturing takes place in Pakistan generally. Indigenization needs to be strengthened to do away the prevailing assembling industry with a massive chunk of imported components. It has been observed that the lack of an electronics ecosystem in Pakistan forces companies to import parts. This is a policy issue to be looked at by the relevant authorities. Hassle-free and cheap imports need to be restricted in order to address the economic woes of the local industry and the foreign investors who might be looking at investing in this sector for lucrative returns.
Imposition of stringent taxation measures for imported home appliances and their components may be given a thought by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) since Pakistan being a developing country cannot stand an enormous import bill of billions of dollars in this regard. Attracting foreign investment in this sector should be a cakewalk since over 70 percent of the burgeoning young population of Pakistan owns TV sets, fridges, washing machines, fans etc. The first and foremost job in this regard is to quantify the size of the market, which itself is an enigma. Along with the documentation drive, it has become mandatory to find out the sales of the home appliances which could lead to a prudent decision-making.
There are certain companies established decades ago with thousands of employees. These companies may be of significant help in terms of implementation of the concept of 100% localization for the ultimate benefit of the economy and employment generation. Looking at the current scenario, it is evident that Pakistan has actually exported jobs to some countries which are exporting home appliances to Pakistan and getting whopping benefits from our large and undocumented sector.
Government may approach some of the leading home appliances brands which may consider investing in Pakistan creating job opportunities for the Pakistanis along with technology transfer.
China’s Haier has invested in foreign countries. Haier’s long-term investment of GE Appliances is an example which our local manufacturers may follow. Germany’s diversified Bosch Group is a financially sound organization. BSH Household Appliances is one of the largest European manufacturers of household appliances. Swedish home appliance manufacturer Electrolux and UK-based Dyson could be great options for the Pakistani market.